Know the Difference Between Disinfect and Sanitize Because . . .

Here comes flu season!

Cue the Theme from Jaws . . . the viruses are sneaking up on us! We often think of something as clean if it looks clean. But there’s that other kind of “clean” that we have to be vigilant about at all times and especially during flu season. Today we’re talking about hard surface hygiene, a term borrowed from the American Cleaning Institute. You know – countertops, toilets, door and cabinet handles, floors, keyboards, etc.Cartoon /

Consider this:

  Pathogens (illness-causing microorganisms) are invisible, so when you clean a surface with the intent to kill as much of the nasty things as possible, wipe down the entire surface. Be thorough. Have you ever seen a demonstration of how far vapor from a sneeze or droplets from a flushed toilet travel?

  There is indeed a difference between disinfecting and sanitizing. Disinfectants, which can also be called antimicrobials, kill most pathogenic microorganisms. Sanitizers kill some of the pathogens, reducing their numbers to a safe level. So disinfecting goes the extra mile. However, products used to disinfect can be too harsh for some surfaces, especially if used repeatedly, or cause health issues, so choose wisely. If you suspect a sanitizer will do the trick, use that.

  Remove visible dirt/food/spills on a surface before disinfecting or sanitizing to give the pathogen-killing agent the best chance to work on the surface itself. Or be liberal with your use of a cleaner with a pathogen-killing agent built in.

We’ve talked in previous posts about the fact that microfiber cloths are so incredible that they even pick up bacteria and viruses. has wonderful, high-quality cloths and dusters that last through hundreds of washings. That makes microfiber a good choice for cleaning around the house during flu season. But when a family member clearly has a virus, Microbiologist Michael Schmidt at the Medical University of South Carolina recommends using “. . . a disinfectant and good old elbow grease to make certain that that material [germs and bacteria] is gone.”

Oh, and don’t forget a flu shot. We hope you and your family stay well! So, do you feel armed and ready???

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